IPSE highlights the self-employed savings crisis

The UK's leading freelancer body has described the low levels of pensions saving by self-employed Brits as a "ticking time bomb".

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) conducted a poll of freelancers and found that that 16% were not saving for later life at all - through pensions, ISAs or any other method.

The latest Government figures on pension-saving by the self-employed show that only 17% of self-employed people are actually paying into a pension - just half the 2003/4 high of 34%.

A new Joseph Rowntree Foundation report on poverty has also highlighted a creeping rise in pensioner impoverishment, which has gone up from 13% in 2011/12 to 16% in 2015/16.

The issue of pensions for the self-employed is being addressed in a Government public consultation, expected to report by the end of this year or early in 2018. It will look at "the case and options for longer-term reform to make the employment status tests for both employment rights and tax clearer," according to the recent Budget.

Jonathan Lima-Matthews, IPSE's senior policy adviser, said: "We welcome the forthcoming review by the Department for Work and Pensions, which … will consider the self-employed and whether automatic enrolment would work for them. We hope this review will not only help to highlight the issue of low pension uptake among the self-employed, but will also offer some practical next steps to improve the situation. IPSE has been in close contact with officials throughout the process."

Low pension uptake, he said, is a "ticking time bomb" and a major concern for IPSE. "We are working hard to give the self-employed a voice on this, and are currently conducting a large-scale study of self-employed people and how they save for later life, with a landmark report due in early 2018."

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